Bicycle Safety: New Laws And Community Standards

Nov 03

Bicycle safety in traffic is a growing concern for many cities.

Bicycle safety in traffic is a growing concern for many cities.

Every year there are new laws enacted to keep not only drivers safe, but all types of road users. This includes pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists. Many states have recently adopted a “Three feet for Safety” law to encourage stronger bicycle safety standards. 
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Riders on bicycles are everywhere, especially when the weather is nice. Some people ride bicycles from place to place because of higher gas prices. Others ride for healthy exercise. Some just simply like to ride and take the time to commute via bicycle and get some fresh air. Whatever the reason, sharing the roads with riders on bicycles is becoming more common. Because of this, bicycle safety is becoming an issue.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration there were 629 cyclist fatalities in 2003. By 2012 this number had jumped to 726. The 2012 figure accounted for 2.2% of all traffic fatalities, and even though traffic fatalities overall had decreased, the number of bicycle fatalities had increased. This shows that there were more riders sharing the road with drivers, and that bicycle safety is a growing concern.

In order to address this concern several states, including California, have enacted new bicycle safety laws such as the “Three Feet for Safety” law. Here is a brief description of what the law stands for:

Alternatively named the Three Feet for Safety Act, effective Sept. 16, this rule states that a car or other motorized vehicle must leave three feet of space between itself and any bicycle.

The California Bicycle Coalition was the driving force behind this new law, which will result in a citation if a driver is found in violation of it. The base fine is $35, with it jumping to $220 if a driver collides with a vehicle.

This is only one way that bicycle safety is becoming more of a priority. Many communities are focusing on bicycle safety by creating special bicycle lanes that drivers cannot drive in. Other communities are taking abandoned railway lines and creating separate bicycle trails that keep riders completely away from traffic while creating green space that becomes usable for the entire community.

An example of this is the Monon Trail in Indianapolis. Construction of the trail started in 1999 and was extended to its current length of 18.1 miles by the end of 2008. It was built along a section of abandoned railway that once ran between Indianapolis and Chicago and now connects downtown Indianapolis with several of its northern suburbs. It connects with several other trails in the city and is used by more than 4,000 people per day for fitness and communiting.

In addition to bicycle safety, the Monon Trail has also spurred economic growth with several local businesses using its location as a way to drive business. It has become an incredibly popular feature within in the city and it is one way that bicycle safety is promoted by keeping riders separate from traffic. With more growth such as trails in cities in hand with new laws designed to keep riders safe, bicycle safety is becoming a priority and riders are more protected than ever before.

 

Travis Miller

Travis has been blogging professionally since 2006 and has been working as a traffic safety advocate since 2012.

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